Monthly Archives: February 2009

You are browsing the site archives by month.

The importance of seeing someone like yourself

Transgendered people in media
I guess it a little bit late but today I learned that in the just finished (thanx Annelie for the update!) cycle of America’s Next Top Model featured a 22-year old woman called Isis (middle picture) which has a transsexual background. There wasn’t any mention about her background in the official release but just like me she seem to think that openness is the best strategy and came out in an article in the USMagazine.

First I was happy for her just for the chance of being a model because ten years ago I have to confess that I dreamt a little about being a model. I guess it is the ultimate affirmation of beauty and femininity. I got to know a photographer back then who took at a thousand images of me and I believe doing those photoshoots and seeing all the images meant a lot for my process. Then I thought about that this meant that she actually got a chance to follow her dream just as the other girls on the show. That is really something for a group of people unfortunately used to being treated badly (read the comments on the USMagazine page if you want to see ugly comments…).

However, I wonder if the biggest things isn’t that fact that transgendered people actually are starting to see someone who are like them in the media. Invisibility is a hard thing to handle. The review from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) notes that a positive trend is that more transgendered characters are appearing in film and television. We have of course Alexis in Ugly Betty (left image) but she is played by a genetic female. In Dirty Sexy Money however the transgender character Carmelita is played by Candis Cayne (right image) who went through her transition 10 years ago. Not only a transgender character but also a transgender actress that has a successful career.

Further they noted transgendered Laverne Cox in VH1’s I Want to Work for Diddy and in America’s Got Talent Dorae Saunders, a transgender woman and Tina Turner impersonator, appeared. I had not heard about it but there apparently was a romantic reality series Transamerican Love Story which featured transgender actress Calpernia Addams as the bachelorette, and included a transgender man among the contenders vying for her affection. Read what Out&About wrote about the show.

Sure, there is always the argument of whether or not these are “good” representations of transgendered people but I guess it must not matter. It IS important to be visible and sooner or later people themselves find out that all transgendered are not the same while we shared some common experiences and problems in life. I think the future looks promising. It does not hurt that these women are stunningly beautiful either – seeing that your dream can become true!

The Land of Affirmations

I spent last week in Las Vegas, Nevada and as usual I enjoyed being in the United States again. On my way back home again last Friday/Saturday I started thinking what it is that makes me like it there. Sure I think I am more pro-US than most Swedes are and it always nice to go on a long trip – it is almost like an adventure. But there must be something more to it…

First of all I think the gender roles are a bit more accentuated in the US especially among the business (or military) people that I normally meet. It is something about how people dress I think. Women are in general a little bit more formal (during daytime) than what is common in Sweden and also in general a little bit more makeup. Match that to a style which favours sneakers (during leisure time) together with pink colors and it fits me like a glove 🙂 So I actually think I blend in better in terms of my looks in the US. All of this are generalisations of course but still. I actually feel a little less stared at in the US which of course is a big relief for me.

However, what really affects me is the constant affirmations I get everyday when I am being adressed as “Miss” or “M’am”. Lately I seem to have became more of a “M’am” than “Miss” actually I think I feel rather good about that. The first times years back I noticed this of course and became very happy but I guess I became used to it over the years while forgetting the effect it had on me. It is very good for my mind to get these affirmations when being addressed on the aircraft, at the hotel reception and at lunch. It secures me on my “pink cloud” where I feel secure and proud of myself.

Actually there are very few wrong pronouns when I am in the US also. I can hardly remember when anybody over there used the wrong one for me the last time. Here in Sweden it happened just a few weeks ago at the Headquarters in the middle of a meeting.

So I guess America is good for my self-esteem. Fortunately I am flying back there on Monday morning and will stay in the Virginia area for two weeks.

Note to non-Swedes: In Sweden the equivalents of Mr/Miss/Mrs are hardly used any more. Maybe if you get a very formal invitation from the King, otherwise it is usually done with some kind of humorous remark. It is very informal conversational climate.

Where the FAST Enterprise Search Platform (ESP) is going now…

I have spent the last week in Las Vegas attending the FAST Forward 09 conference. About a year ago the Norvegian company FAST Search & Transfer was acquired by Microsoft and like me customers all over the world wonder what would happen. Some thought it was great to have a huge company with its R&D resources to take the platform forward while others like me feared a technology transition which would include cancelling support for other operating systems and integration with nothing but Microsoft technology.

It was very clear that the Microsoft Marketing department had a lot to say about the conference and what messages that were to be conveyed. Somewhere behind all that you could still see some of the old FAST mentality but it was really toned down. To me the conference was about convincing existing customers that MS is committed to Enterprise Search and to give Sharepoint customers some idea of what Enterprise Search is all about.

It is clear that the product line is diversifying in a common Microsoft strategy:

Solutions for Internet Business

  • FAST Search for Internet Business
  • FAST Search for Sharepoint Internet sites
  • FAST AdMomentum
  • Solutions for Business Productivity

  • FAST Search for Sharepoint
  • FAST Search for Internal Application
  • FAST Search for Sharepoint won’t be available until Office Wave 14 (incl Sharepoint) will be released so in the meantime there will be a product called FAST ESP for Sharepoint that can be used today and will have a license migration path towards FAST Search for Sharepoint. That product will have product license of aroudn 25 000 USD and then additional Client Access License (CAL) will follow in a standrad MS manner.

    So what does all of this means for us who like to see FAST ESP continue as an enterprise component in a heterogenous environment? Well, MS has commited to 10 years of support for current customers, I guess in a gesture towards those who are worried. Over and over again I heard representatives talking about how important those high-end installations on other operating systems are. The same message appeared when it came to connectors and integration with Enterprise Content Management systems like EMC Documentum. Still, most if not all demos was connected to Sharepoint and/or other MS-specific technologies.

    The technical roadmap means that the past year has been devoted in rewriting their next generation search platform from Java to .Net. The first product that will be released is the Content Integration Studio (CIS) which consist of Visual Studio (I guess earlier in Eclipse) component and a server-side execution engine. This will only be available on Windows since it is deeply connected to the .Net-environment. It looks like a promising product with support for flows instead of linear pipeline to handle the processing of information before it is handed of to the index engine. CIS therefore sits in-front of FAST ESP and a combination of actions in flow and in old pipelines can be executed. Information from CIS is written to the ESP which then creates the index and also processes queries to it.

    What I think we can expect is that new innovation is focused on creating a modular architecture where CIS is the first one. Features in ESP will the be gradually reengineered in a .Net-environment and thus creating a common search platform some years into the future. It will likely mean that we will still see one or two upgrades to the core ESP as we know it today to enable it to function together with the new components. Content Fusion will most likely be the next module that will extend ESP but on a .Net-architecture.

    When it comes to the presentation logic where we today have the FAST Search Front-End (SFE) we will see them either as Web parts for Sharepoint or as AJAX Aerogel from MS. These are currently developed using Javascript but will include Silverlight later on.

    These will initially be offered in both a IIS and a Tomcat flavour and possibly others if there is demand. They will intitially integrated with ESP and Unity and thus opening up for a new approach of developing a search experience on top of them.

    I general I don’t like the Microsoft approach of insisting of owning the whole technology stack by themselves and refusing to invest in other standards-based projects. Instead of developing their own AJAX libraries they could have used ExtJS or even Google Web Toolkit. While it is not open source MS argues that it is a very Permissive licence from MS that has many of the same qualities. A good thing is that MS was comitted to make sure that this framework works on all major browsers including FireFox, Safari and Chrome. It is interoperable with JQuery.

    In summary I think it is kind of a mixed experience. The new features being developed are truly needed to make FAST keep being one of the most advanced search engines available. I think many of the features look really promising and I can’t wait to get my hands on then. On the other hand it is clear that things are going proprietary (FAST ESP had a lot of open source in it), it is being aligned in a Microsoft stack and thus gradually minimizing options. That includes how new technologies are being implemented (MS-ones instead of open source), what operating systems it will run on and how the support for developing presenation logics look like. It means I have to have people how know both Java and .Net, both Flash and Silverlight (possibly JavaFx) and both ExtJS/GWT and MS AJAX/Aerogel.

    We are deeply invested in the EMC Documentum Platform and would of course like to continue use ESP as a way to add advanced capabilities and performance to our architecture. However, I think I will over time get sick and tired on Microsoft sales people trying to convince me to use Sharepoint instead of Documentum. For anybody who know how both platform work it is almost a joke but I will most likely have to keep explaining and explaining. I just hope that we can have decent connector developed for Documentum.

    Too read more you can go to the FAST Forward Blog which has many interviews, look at videos at the Microsoft Press Room and check out the chatter on ffc09 tagged tweets on Twitter. An finally here is what CMS Watch has to say about it.